A “Ministriography” of Ed DuBose
My experience as an ordained pastor has taken me to a couple of different settings. I started as the associate Pastor at St. Andrew Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Eden Prairie, MN. During my 12 years there my ministry was very specialized. I had the title “Teaching Pastor” and as the title suggested I was responsible for all Christian education from eighth grade through adults. I also had the chance to do service ministry, which in this case involved all of the food, blood, clothing drives at the Church, as well as Habitat for Humanity and best of all several mission trips to Honduras, Central America.
After 12 years I had to make an important decision. I felt called to decide whether to stay where I was for my entire career or move on. The idea of staying was very appealing. I loved my areas of specialization in ministry and the congregation had been wildly successful. We had grown from about 500 members when I arrived to over 7,000 by that time. We had done several building projects and a relocation. The congregation could not have been more supportive of my ministry. It was truly a remarkable place to do ministry. On the other hand, I felt like I wanted the chance to preach more often and just that unexplainable desire to experience something different.
I moved to King of Kings Lutheran Church in Woodbury, MN. I was the associate pastor there for three years. Unfortunately, it was not a good match and I moved on.
As I was doing the usual networking I talked to someone at Lutheran Brotherhood. They were looking for a church relations specialist. The position title was Agency Resource Manager (ARM) and it was a great chance to work with congregations as a stewardship consultant. It was also a lot of fun to work for a Fortune 500 company that seemed to have unlimited resources. Of course, after two years Lutheran Brotherhood merged with AAL to become Thrivent Financial. The new company was making drastic cuts to my position across the country and to the type of work I was doing. Even though my work and the St. Paul agency had been very successful they still wanted to reduce my position from seven people to three. They offered me a nice severance package at the same time the three-year rule was about to end for the ELCA.
As I understand it if you are out of ordained ministry for more than three years you can loose your ordination. So I re-entered ordained ministry. I was excited to be back in ordained ministry and it was a different experience because I was a completely different person. Of course I had 15 years experience as an associate pastor, but I also had a much deeper appreciation for the many different types of congregations and the problems that they face.
I took the Interim Ministry training at Luther Seminary with Paul Svingen, the person who has become my role model for how to do interim ministry. The training was a great experience and I was gung-ho to give it a try.
There was only one problem; the Twin Cities are blessed with an abundance of ordained Pastors. Many of them feel called to interim ministry. Even though the Minneapolis and St. Paul Synods use an interim in almost every call that opens up there still are not enough interim positions to go around. I got in line for a church and waited patiently for six months. When I didn’t get an interview I started to approach other denominations.
I began to work with Methodist congregations. It has been a great experience. My first appointment was for a few months at a very small but historically rich congregation in Taylor’s Falls. They had about forty people in worship each Sunday. I then went to beautiful Cannon Falls and Stanton. It was a two-point call for two small but very different congregations. My ministry was about helping them find new ways to work together that allowed them each to be true to their very different visions of ministry.
Then I was appointed to yet another Methodist congregation in Farmington. This mid size church had been through a lot of conflict regarding a previous pastor and was facing serious financial difficulties. I was blessed to work with a great group of people who were able to reexamine their ministry and make the change from being a staff led congregation to being a volunteer led congregation.
After my year in Farmington I was appointed to Calvary Church in Shakopee. This congregation had also been through a conflict regarding a previous pastor and had lost about half of their families. I stayed in Shakopee for two years and helped them balance their budget and connect to another local small congregation with which they could do a shared ministry. I will always remember the extremely talented and committed volunteers at this congregation who have kept it moving forward.
In July of 2008 I was appointed as a ‘permanent’ Pastor at Spirit of Hope United Methodist Church in Golden Valley. It is my sixth consecutive Methodist Church. However, it is my first ‘permanent’ appointment. I still think of myself as a Lutheran, but I am quick to recognize that denominational differences mean less and less in today’s world.
Each of the transitions I have had in my ministry has been stressful. Yet when I look back on them all I see that God does have a plan for my life. I am grateful for the privilege of working in God’s kingdom and constantly amazed that the plans I make for my life continue to change.
The Lord has blessed me with wonderful opportunities for meaningful ministry. I have just returned from three weeks in Honduras Central America. My family has been working with a children’s home there for almost twenty years. My friends in Central America have been patient teachers for me. In addition to trying to teach me a new language they have taught me a lot about life. They have shown me that life is so much more than material possessions. They have been great role models of love, faith and friendship.
I am especially blessed to be accompanied on this journey by Rosie, my wife of 31years and my two beautiful daughters Melissa and Megan. They have been very patient with my frequent ministry changes and a great support as I deal with the unique challenges of each congregation.
Until next time,
Be at peace,
The best is yet to be,